2nd September 2014
We've received an email from DGERC asking for help
in research into Ash Dieback. The text of the message is
given below together with a link to an information file
describing what to look for. Your help would be appreciated
"Do you enjoy a walk in the woods? Or have Ash trees
near your home?
If so you may be able to help with research into
the causes of Ash-dieback which has become widespread in
eastern England since 2012. The disease is caused by a fungus
Hymenoscyphus fraxineus (formerly known as Chalara fraxinea).
Researchers at the John Innes Centre are studying the related
fungus Hymenoscyphus albidus that occurs naturally with
Ash trees but causes no problems to the tree and are looking
for specimens from north west England and southern Scotland.
Details of what to look for, what to collect and where
to send it are given in this
22nd August 2015
A couple of more items from Dave -
BBS square and Stidriggs area - female Hen Harrier, pair
of Stonechats, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 4 grey
Wagtails, Reed Bunting, 2 Siskins.
Stidriggs track -6 Wheatears, 1 Whinchat
Kinnel water - Sparrowhawk, 22 Sand Martins
Beattock Country Park - Pair Mute Swans with 7 large cygnets,
Moorhen, Mallard with good size
WCBS (Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey) butterfly survey
on the BBs square, first visit - 270 Ringlets,
6 Small heath, 1 Meadow brown, 4 Green veined white, 3 Small
And from Iain -
Swifts will soon be gone but bred well as regularly I saw
40-50 birds over Moffat. With Osprey breeding close to
Moffat they are regularly seen over the town. A White Tailed
Eagle was seen locally on the 17th June over the Community
Reserve before heading up Moffat Water. Barn Owls reared
four young at Holmshaw, Beattock. Heath Spotted Orchids
were present on the Reserve this year.
20th August 2015
Some sightings by Dave Bradshaw -
12/08/14 - Cornal Court, Beattock - 2 juv Willow Warblers
15/08/14 - Earshaigs - Meadow Pipit 18, Chaffinch 4, Swallow
16, Goldfinch 10, Stonechat 3, Song thrush 3, Mistle thrush
2, Blue tit 5, Willow Warbler 7, lots of juveniles and a
singing male, Robin 6, Wren 2, Spotted Flycatcher 4, G S
woodpecker 2, Goldcrest 3, Buzzard 4, Sparrowhawk , Kestrel
, Jay, Bullfinch, Redpoll, Siskin 15, Carrion Crow 2.
Crooked road - Pied Wagtail 8, Meadow Pipit 7, Buzzard 3,
08/08/14 - at my garden feeder I had 25 House Sparrows.
At our reserve this morning, still quite a few Dragonflies,
Damselflies, Darters and Chasers going about on the Middle
and Woodland Ponds.
2nd August 2015
Our meetings schedule for the forthcoming season
has now been organised and you can view it on our Events
Our main item of news is that our President 'Jock' Dicerbo
has decided to stand down. Jock has been President of the
club ever since its formation in 1961. His all-round knowledge
of the natural world has been a great benefit to the club
and will be sorely missed. By unanimous agreement among
the committee, we would like Jock to continue as Honorary
As most of you will be aware, this has been an unusually
good breeding year for most of our common garden birds.
House Sparrow numbers have rocketed - and there are still
new broods appearing! Blackbirds have done well as have
the Robins, Dunnocks, Blue Tits and Great Tits. However,
it isn't all good news - there seems to be a significant
drop in Swallow and House Martins.
At the Reserve, it is good and bad. Mallard have been abysmally
poor this year (in fact the first brood was seen only a
few days ago), something that seems to be happening all
over the country for reasons unknown. A few Teal have made
an appearance over the last week or so. Canada Geese set
about nesting but then abandoned. Treecreepers have all
but vanished for some reason but other small birds have
been fine. Moorhen have done very well indeed with a few
different broods coming through. Our Sand Martin bank has
also been a great success with some two dozen or so nests
this year. Tawny Owls raised two young successfully and
our Barn Owls have also done well again.
There has been quite a few sightings of Red Squirrels in
the town, possibly due to disturbance by the timber operations
on Gallow Hill. Sightings seem to be in areas where there
are tree corridors to the Gallow Hill and Tank Wood - Beechgrove,
Old Well Road and Greenwood Close for example. Very entertaining
to watch them raiding the bird feeders! Interestingly, there
has been two probable sightings of Pine Marten in Greenwood
Close this summer, one a brief visual sighting in daytime,
the other caught on John's 'trail camera' during the night.
These are likely 'wanderers' from a colony not far east
of Moffat. Pine Martens do prey on squirrels but Red Squirrels
are very nimble creatures and hard to catch. Greys are more
cumbersome and make for much easier prey for the Pine Martens,
a good natural control!
Work at the reserve continues of course. Some new paths
have been laid (we've run out of wood chips so temporarily
at a halt), including one going all around the Middle Pond
which is great for seeing Damselflies, Dragonflies, Darters
and Chasers (and Water Vole if you are lucky!). Bridges,
sheds, hides and seats have all been repainted. An old shed
in fairly good order has been donated and is under construction
now near the orchard area. This will conveniently hold a
few tools so save us from having to carry them all that
way! New picnic tables have also been installed. With good
pathways and plenty of places to sit for a while, it's a
great place to come for a leisurely visit complete with
flask and sandwiches!
12th June 2014
John had another squirrel in his garden in Greenwood
Close this morning. However, the good news is that this
time it was a Red Squirrel performing acrobatics to reach
the peanuts. It is welcome back any time! Not the best picture
but it was taken through the double-glazing.
7th June 2014 (replacing 6th June entry)
Red-breasted Goose was seen at our Reserve today,
apparently keeping company with the Canada Geese and a Greylag.
This goose is a native of Eurasia and is seldom seen in
Britain (even if it is an escapee rather than a truly wild
one). There were a few sightings at Caerlaverock in April.
To have one on our Reserve is quite something! The photograph
is by John Ramsay.
22nd May 2014
Update from Dave Bradshaw - checked the nest boxes
at Bankend for the first time on Friday(16th).
9 of the 12 new boxes put up are occupied and bits of material
in the other 3. Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher are back
in the wood but have not heard Willow Warbler yet which
is normally present by now. On first check Great Tit is
up two on last year and Blue tit up by one on last year.
Went up to Stidriggs this morning (18th) to do the early
visit on the BBS survey. While walking in the track to the
start point as I reached it a Male Black grouse flew up
from the field on the left hand side. First time seen in
this section of fields. I viewed a Cuckoo on the top of
a tree over on the edge of the Ae forest calling and flying.
BBS transect 3 had 1 male Whinchat, trans 5 had 2 male Whinchats
and trans 6 had 1 male Whinchat so again at least 4 male
Whinchats on the square. Had a pair of Grey Wagtails with
2 newly fledged young and a female Goosander on the River
Kinnel. The bad news is there are no house martins at Stidriggs
farmhouse today so if that stays like that it has gone from
27 nests to slightly less last year to none this year and
nothing has changed at the farmhouse habitat wise.
Update from Iain - Mid-April to 21st May.
At Dyke Farm Nature Reserve on 16th April were Swallows,
Sand Martins, three singing Chiffchaff and four Willow Warblers.
There were 7 Canada Geese around with two Greylag Geese.
A few days later there were three Mute Swans and the first
Blackcap had returned. The first Swifts were over Moffat
on the 2nd May and several moved through the Reserve the
following day. Usual assortment of records of House Martin
and Swallows and at the Reserve the Sand Martin colony is
thriving again with around 15 active nesting holes which
is really encouraging. The Starlings have used three or
four of the nest boxes we have put up for them and there
are now plenty young Starlings in the fields. Our Barn Owls
have hatched their young and hopefully they will have a
good season. A pair of Tawny Owls are rearing their family
next to the big Work Shed. Stock Doves occupy a good few
nest boxes too and Tits and Nuthatch are also breeding in
them though we have not counted them yet. Butterflies are
around with Orange-tips and Small Tortoiseshell being seen
with damselflies. Tadpoles from Frog and Toad and Palmate
Newts thrive in the ponds with other pondlife and Jock has
an aquarium set up in the Woodland Hide for visitors to
enjoy. Roe Deer, Red Fox, Weasel and Rabbits among numerous
small mammals have been seen lately. We continue to work
away and we have planted a small area next to the Middle
Pond with wildflower seed so we hope they will put on a
good show later in the season. In early May, Jock photographed
a Hobby at the Community Reserve flying over the lochan
which was a really good sighting. On the 17th myself, John
Smith and Jon Haydon saw a Red Kite fly over the woodland
at the Reserve which was a real thrill and my first local
sighting of this amazing bird. Also present at the Reserve
that day was a small flock of nine geese comprising of seven
Canadas, a Greylag and a Pink Footed Goose.....pretty good!
Spotted Flycatchers were observed nest building on the 21st
near the Woodland Hide. Andy Dickson had two pairs of Tree
Sparrow nesting in his garden in nest boxes though one was
unfortunately predated by a Weasel. Bird numbers in gardens
are obviously much reduced but Goldfinch, Siskin and Lesser
Redpoll have been seen lately in good numbers.
And from John - my Italian update for 2014 has been modified
slightly since first posted. Should have mentioned that
it has a selection of photos of plants that I would like
identified - a challenge for all you botanists! Go to Articles
on the menu at the left, choose Italian Wildlife and you
will find a link to the update at the top of the page, the
plants are at the end of the page. Also had the misfortune
to see a Grey Squirrel in the our garden last week but there
has been no sign of it since (trail camera has been watching
4th May 2014
Our Coffee Morning held yesterday raised just over £1800
for the club funds. This is wonderful total and our sincerest
appreciation goes to all who dipped deeply into pockets
and purses to achieve this total. We thank all of you for
your support. We especially thank all those who contributed
to the various stalls and those who gave up their time to
working 'behind the scenes' on the day. The wonderful carving,
by Peter Bowsher, was won by Hazel Hastie so it will remain
On the wildlife front, we had a report of a Barn Owl having
been killed on the road near Dyke Farm. However, it proved
to have actually been a Tawny Owl. Sad for the Tawny but
a relief for us as we feared we may have lost one of 'our'
And an unusual one, on Thursday an animal was seen running
along a fence between Greenwood Close and Markland. From
size and description it may have been a mink but most probably
was a Pine Marten. There is a population of these not far
away so probably one of those out for a wander - looking
for Grey Squirrels with a bit of luck!
And finally, an update to John's Italy wildlife observations
has now been posted. Go to Articles on the menu at the left,
choose Italian Wildlife and you will find a link to the
update at the top of the page. The opportunity was taken
to rectify a couple of small errors and omissions in the
original (2013) article,
13th April 2014
Late March/early April update from Iain -
On the 22nd at the Reserve were 4 Oystercatchers, 2 Canada
Geese, 2 Greylag Geese flew over and a mixed flock of 3-400
Fieldfare and Redwing were around. While at Bankend Wood
on the 24th Dave Bradshaw saw a Grey Wagtail and Garry Tait
had a Peacock butterfly round Toot. Two days later an impressive
flock of 56 Whooper Swans were on the lochan at the Community
Reserve with 2 Tufted Duck and a Little Grebe. Four Common
Gull were at the Reserve with a male Sparrowhawk and a few
Meadow Pipits passing over. While walking beside the River
Annan at Brydekirk on the 28th Anne and Howard Gibbard saw
some Sand Martins and an Otter. On the 30th I had a reliable
report of two Green Woodpeckers visiting a garden near Craigielands
at Beattock while a pair of Reed Buntings were at another
garden at Meadowbank Rise. On April 2nd a Sand Martin appeared
at the Reserve with 2 Chiffchaff calling. Many Pinkfeet
moving over and plenty Fieldfare and Redwing in the area
too. At the Community Reserve on the 4th were 4 Shoveler
and the first Osprey arrived back up Moffat Water. Scott
and Janet Little saw the first Swallow along the cycle track
at Beattock on the 8th. The following day at the Reserve
were 2 Sand Martins and 7 Canada Geese and a Cormorant flew
over with 3 Chiffchaff calling. I saw an Osprey near Crawford
on the 10th and on Saturday 12th at the Reserve there were
5 Sand Martin, 4 Swallows moving through and still Chiffchaff
but no Willow Warblers yet. The Canada Goose is sitting
tight on her nest at our reserve and the Oystercatchers
are still showing interest in the new gravel island. A ringed
Lesser Redpoll was in a garden at Meadowbank Rise among
a small flock of 4 Lesser Redpoll and many Siskins.
This will be the last update for two weeks - John off to
Italy again - so just a reminder that our Coffee Morning
is on Saturday, 3rd May at 10.30am. We greatly value your
support so please come along and bring plenty of cash to
5th April 2014
Spring migration is well under way. Whooper Swans
passing through, various geese heading north, the first
Sandmartins have arrived, Chiffchaffs heard calling, etc.
A pair of Canada Geese seem to be taking up residence on
one of our islands, Oystercatchers are frequently overhead,
possibly evaluating the isalnds, but they haven't yet dispersed
for nesting. Most resident birds are either already nesting
or preparing to nest. Some good weather would help immensely!
27th March 2014
Have received the annual (2013) mammal report for
D&G from Andy Riches, the area mammal recorder. You
can view it by clicking here.
It is in PDF format so Adobe Acrobat Reader is required
to view it. Please allow time for it to load as it is quite
a large file.
15th March 2014
Despite the apparent absence of frogs in John's
pond, a considerable amount of spawn appeared overnight
from Wednesday/Thursday. Around 30 frogs appeared briefly
on Friday evening but no more spawn evident so far. Andy
Dickson reported lots of frogs on the road on his way in
to the club meeting on Friday evening. Some frog activity
and spawn on the Reserve ponds today.
Little new on the bird situation, a few more sightings of
Blackcap and first sighting of Wheatear so our summer migrants
are on the way. Expect to see Sandmartins any day now. Garry
reports that Ravens are already sitting on eggs. Animals
are also becoming more active, quite a few Badgers seen
around Ballplay Road lately.
11th March 2014
John had a male Blackcap in the garden yesterday.
Apparently one has been seen by Ann Murray in her garden
on Well Road over the past week or so, possibly the same
Dave Bradshaw saw two Hedgehogs feeding below his bird feeder
on Sunday morning so they are coming out of hibernation.
There are also a few sightings of Bumblebees on the go so
the fine days are bringing them out now.
Still very little frog activity at John's pond - only 3
or 4 seen so far.
9th March 2014
From Jean Hunter-Grant, Hoppertitty, Beattock on
Friday 7th - First appearance of frogspawn this morning
in both ponds in the garden and lots of frog activity. Last
year it was the beginning of April.
(No sign of frog activity yet down at the reserve or in
John's pond - shouldn't be long now)
1st March 2014
Jock Dicerbo, our President ever since the Wildlife
Club started in 1961, reached his 80th Birthday two
weeks ago (15th Feb). By way of a celebration, the committee
laid on a small get-together that night. We presented him
with a carving by Peter Bowsher depicting a Gannet, much
to his delight. There were numerous photos taken and these
have now become available so here is a very small selection
of them. It was unfortunate that not all committee members
were able to attend as, by all accounts, it was a very enjoyable
20th February 2014
Another update - last Sunday/Monday, Jean Hunter-Grant
while walking her dog Nell, spotted nine Grey Herons alight
from a small pond between Milton Farm and Murthat. Also
in the area was a small roost of 26 Starling using a fir
tree to roost in. This morning, 20th February, Garry Tait
was at the Community Reserve and there were 30 Oystercatchers,
with a dozen or so using the floating rafts, and 6 Lapwing
in the area which was good to see.
John noted today Song Thrushes singing away heartily, one
on the trees bordering Merkland & Greenwood Close, another
on the trees beside Mill Green on Well Road.
19th February 2014
There are signs that birds are starting to pair
off, a Woodpecker was heard drumming at Dyke Farm today
and a number of Oystercatchers were heard calling over the
town tonight. All signs that spring just might be on its
way - or is that wishful thinking?
Our Reserve Development page has been updated with a summary
of recent work.
18th February 2014
As most of you will be aware, this has been a very
quiet winter season for bird sightings. Here is a summary
from Iain on what little has been reported to him so far
this year -
Since the start of 2014 there have been a number of people
reporting very small numbers of Bramblings visiting their
gardens. On 6th January, Scott Little had 5 Lesser Redpoll
in his garden at Beattock. A fortnight later Scott saw two
Oystercatchers down the APR Road and Garry saw one passing
over Moffat on the 28th. Garry reported a number of Red
Kite sightings between Moffat and Lockerbie. Clive Ottowell
had two good sightings of a Green Sandpiper and a Water
Rail at Lochbrow on the River Annan near Johnstonebridge.
At the Reserve on the 29th two Raven flew over while a Kestrel
has been wintering in the area. On 1st February Grace Saunders
from Beattock reported a Brambling in her garden and on
the 7th Garry had a flock of 17 Brambling near The Yett
farm at Johnstonebridge. At the Community Reserve two or
three Oystercatchers have been using the floating rafts
while small numbers of waterfowl can be seen at times including
Mute Swans, Goosander, Cormorant and Tufted Ducks.
4th February 2014
Andy Riches has sent the annual reports for Castle
& Hightae Lochs for 2013. These have been posted and
you can view them here. They are all in PDF format so Adobe
Acrobat Reader is required.
& Hightae Loch LNR Report 2013
Maxima Castle Loch
Maxima Castle Loch
Andy is asking for any last records to go into the 2013
D&G County Mammal Report. If you have any records that
you want included that have not already been sent to him
then now is the time! Reports of all mammals, from mice
to stags, are welcomed - they all go to making up the full
picture. You can email reports to firstname.lastname@example.org
Also John has now posted his graphs for bird sightings
in Greenwood Close for the five years of 2009 through to
2013 and has expanded it a little from previous years. This
is also in PDF format.
The long spell of wet weather has hampered work down at
the reserve lately. However, numerous nestboxes have been
refurbished and put up, along with a number of brand new
ones. We have also made a start gravelling one of the islands
but this will be a long job!
On the wildlife front there has been very little to report.
Our winter visitors have been conspicuously absent this
year although still a few Fieldfare going about.
5th January 2014
The recent spell of atrocious weather has done no serious
damage on the reserve. There has been some flooding but,
beyond dislodging some pathway logs, has been fairly minor.
We have been painstaking in keeping our drainage ditches
clear and it looks as if that has made a huge difference.
Recent work (beyond replacing logs!) has been on replacing
old nestboxes and adding some new ones. The 'boys' seem
to be doing fine without John's help (suffering from a back
Numerous smallish flocks of geese were seen this morning
over Moffat, going in a northerly direction. It is likely
that their normal feeding areas are waterlogged and they
are seeking new ones. It is a bit early for migration yet.
11th December 2013
Another bird has been added to our lists - a Dipper
was seen on the reserve this morning. This is quite unexpected
as the habitat is not one that these birds are likely to
visit, they prefer fast flowing water..
All the earlier entries for 2013
have been moved to the Archives.